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December 23, 2010

Tron Legacy


Tron Legacy has a lot of things going for it: a lot of people remember Tron with great fondness, it’s core idea is cyber groovy, it has a great soundtrack by the uber cool Daft Punk, it has stunning design and it stars Dude become reality Jeff Bridges.

And yet something is lacking. I’m trying to figure out what.

The story starts with some exposition, showing Flynn’s son as a twenty year old, explaining the disappearance of Flynn (again!) and trying to lay some emotional foundation. It doesn’t work, although the real world action hacking scene is okay it doesn’t even get close to the excitement and style of the hacking The Social Network. The jokes about a megacorp OS software house feel tired and the CEO revealing their plans to the board as if they didn’t know felt unreal. It’s a dead end too, an obligatory real world story that seems to be there for the sake of it, adding nothing to the rest of the film. It results in portraying a slacker twentysomething living on the shares he owns of a mega corporation. Yeah he lost his dad, but I didn’t empathise with him.

The real world scenes are also shot in 2D, which was nice as I could remove the useless 3D glasses. Tangential rant: wearing 3D glasses when you wear real glasses is a really rubbish experience, it’s uncomfortable, glary and then there’s the exaggerated motion blur and weird colour sheen. 3D is terrible. Anyway, in not too long a time son of Flynn ends up inside the computer (and everything turns 3D, not quite The Wizard Of Oz effect I bet they hoped for though) and on the grid.

There’s a disc battle, a light cycle battle and the action is good and fun, and yes, the design is great, neon and dark and black shiny. There are beautiful people in tight fitting costumes (although more women than men) and Michael Sheen doing a crazy Bowie impression. The sound is great and the soundtrack is really great. Jeff bridges is also quite good in his Zen Dude guise. It all just lacks something. The exposition is ponderous, the emotional story fails to grab at the heart and the plot lacks that joyous excitement it should have. Compare it to The Matrix for example, a descendant of the original Tron, remember how much fun and urgency and wow that film has? Where even the exposition is great and the first time it was like a wash of something really new. Tron Legacy in contrast feels too subdued, no sense of urgency, as if the dark and neon has sucked out all the soul.

It’s not terrible. Just, lacking.


I don't rember the original Tron being that emotionally gratifying either. The movie was always about special effects. Perhaps too now that we're all used to the internet, personal i-everythings and all that that the idea of getting sucked into a computer Universe doesn't carry with it the novelty and emotional resonance that it had in the Eighties when all of that cyber-stuff only happened in, well movies like Tron.


NEWS REPORTER: Kevin Flynn, you created the two most successful video games in history.

KEVIN FLYNN: Yes, I am that cool.



CEO: A momentous day... we are now trading internationally and are on the Nikkei Index.

ME: Erm... how successful were those video games again?

And a woeful underuse of Cillian Murphy!

Things Tron lacked:

Bit. Also, coherent computer metaphors in general.

Exposition. Why did half the shit that happened matter? Example: what was so damned special about the ISOs, other than CLU not liking them. The first Tron was a bit better about this.

Tron. Seriously he makes his big entrance and it's just one line that sounds like it could have been lifted from the original movie?

I liked it on the same level that I liked Ultraviolet.